Posts Tagged ‘Sam Adams’

Don’t be afraid Sam Winter Lager haters, there is something different about this (and last years) Winter Lager. I typically like the seasonal beers put out by Sam Adams. I reviewed earlier in year the Summer Ale as well as Latitude 48, and the East West Kolsch. However, I had always avoided the Sam Winter Lager mostly because there are so many winter beers that I typically don’t like, that I didn’t want to take a risk. Winter Lager has disappointed me in the past and I’ve run from it in past holiday seasons. However, when a free one is placed in front of you by a kind bartender, you can’t turn it down.

Winter Lager pours a humble brown with a gold tinge to it. The head arrived two fingers tall, but quickly subsided, leaving a small amount of lacing around the glass. Like many winter beers, there was a traditional spice aroma lifting from the glass accompanied by a mild malt flavor. My first sip was pretty bland, but the flavors eventually collided together and I understand what they were trying to get at. Although ginger is the prevalent spice taste, I believe there are elements of nutmeg or perhaps allspice that linger in the background to remind you that this is not a simple beer. Winter Lager has a mild bitterness that is similar to orange peel and contains a pleasant malt flavor. Simply, there is nothing overwhelming about this beer, yet at the same time, there is nothing underwhelming about it either.

I’m from New England and I love Sam Adams. I’m still questioning their status as a microbrew given their mass distribution and seemingly endless production of barrels, but I can get past that because this is yet another example of the kind of high quality beers that they put out year after year in mass quantity at an affordable price. This beer can be found everywhere in New England and most regional areas. I’ve found it at many of the liquor stores, supermarkets, and yes, even drug stores here in the Chicagoland area. You can pick up a 12 pack of Winter Lager for around $15 or a six pack for around $9. You can also find this buried inside the winter variety back alongside the Boston Lager, Sam Adams Light, and another seasonal beer. This is a solid offering from a solid brewery that serves as a pleasant post Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas lager.

Grade: B

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I had to look this one up on Wikipedia, but Kölsch is a local beer speciality of Cologne, Germany. This, of course, made the title of Sam Adams East-West Kolsch make a whole lot more sense in its reference to Berlin. Further reading revealed that ordering a Kölsch in the wrong town or pub can lead to harassment and has led to violence in the past. Oh those crazy Germans.

I found a couple bottles of East-West tucked away in the Sam Adams Summer Variety pack. I had originally intended to use these bottle to make some bratwurst, but thought it couldn’t hurt to give one of them a try.

Kölsch beers are typically poured into tall, thin glasses because the taste deteriorates quickly in this style and less surface area means the beer lasts longer. I used the thinnest pilsner glass I had in this spirit.

East-West pours a clear, straw yellow that is nearly translucent. There was very little carbonation in East-West (although my picture did catch a beautiful array of bubbles rushing to the top) and virtually no head formed. The only aroma that emerged from East-West was a clean hop taste with very little else present. My first taste revealed what my nose detected – clean, fresh hops, not extremely bitter like a pale ale, but still prevalent. I detected a floral under note somewhere, but it was not strong enough for me to identify. The finish was clean and refreshing.

Generally, I would say this is a light, refreshing beer with a decent flavor profile. On the Sam Adams website, they indicate that this is only the second year East-West has been brewed. They also explained that the floral note I detected was jasmine. They age East-West on a bed of Jasmine flowers to extract a light trace of the flower’s aroma. This is the only Kölsch style beer I have ever had and it makes me want to try others to compare. That said, I can’t say East-West is anything special. East-West is a good beer – well balanced and refreshing. I like it as part of a variety park, but I can’t see myself purchasing a six pack separately.

Grade: C+

Before I started writing Microbrew Mondays, I was in love with all IPA style beers. The bitterness, the aftertaste, it all seemed like a beer revolution to me. Needless to say, when I first had Latitude 48 IPA from Sam Adams, I was in beer heaven. The first time I ever tried this beer with on a tour of the Sam Adams brewery tour. Latitude was still in its testing phase and our tour guide poured heavy sample glasses closer to 8oz probably because ours was a smaller group. I enjoyed this one so much that I stole my friends glass as well – more like traded him my next sample – whatever that might have been. Fast forward three years, a bottle of Latitude 48 was left at my house following a party and I thought now would be a good time to revisit an old friend.

Latitude 48 pours a deep copper color with a fare amount of dirty white foam. This was an easy beer to pour due to a smaller amount of carbonation that is pretty typical in most Sam Adams beers. The head immediately bursts of hoppy flavor indicating a potent IPA. My first sip was like going home. Sam Adams uses three different hops from three different countries whose regions all lie on the 48 latitude line. My first taste made a liar of my nose. There was not an overwhelming hop flavor making me question this as a traditional IPA. However, the definitive hop flavor, mild sweetness, the characteristic bitter finish, and the 60 IBU does place this in the range for American style IPA beers. The mouth feel is a little thin and I wish there was something just a little heavier given the rich color.

This is another fine example of the kind of microbrew that Sam Adams puts out year after year. Latitude 48 has only been mass produced and distributed for two years, so don’t be too surprised if you haven’t come across it. Latitude 48 is available year round in six packs for around $8 or for $13 for a 12 pack. The 6% ABV is on par than some other American IPA style beers available. Overall I find this to be a well crafted beer that has significant potential to be a fine everyday beer.

Grade: B-